Tuesday, November 23, 2010

10 Great Tools in Time for Christmas

You can get a special tool for anything these days - every small task has it's own glorified gadget - but with a good set of basics on hand you won't need 'em. With the work I do we have a lot of tools around, and here are some of my favorite, multitasking right-hand tools that are worth the storage space:

When it comes to a drill, don't waste your time with a lightweight. This is a tool to invest in, with a model like the DeWalt pictured, as a good one will last years and a cheap one most likely won't have the muscle you need. To accompany the drill - skip the infinite socket sets and extend your reach with a chuck extender like this one from Lee Valley:A handy Husky hex wrench set is the best stocking stuffer - never worry about keeping or better yet finding the many allen wrenches that enter our lives, and treat yourself to a nice round handle to hold onto at the same time. Measure twice, cut once - a speed square is still one of the most useful tools to have around - and it does double duty for arts and crafts.Any all-in-one tool kit will come with a basic wrench. That's a guaranteed way to loose some skin when you try to pry out an offending piece of hardware. Invest in a Vise Grip (this one's under $10)- you'll never use your old pliers again.

Downsize old worn-out screwdrivers (yes they do wear out!) with a multi-bit ratcheting screwdriver like this one from Stanley, and get yourself a good old-fashioned level. Laser levels are pretty, but they often don't fit your application. A standard level is an excellent straightedge as well for cuts and routing. Chisels may also seem like an antiquated suggestion, but you'd be amazed how often you just need to knock a little bit off something to make it fit. Without a power sander, jigsaw, or sawzaw that may take an eternity - simple handheld chisels can take out most of the obstacles you'll encounter.Spare your fingers from a bashing with simple quick-release clamps. Any surface can become a worktop, but it's hard to hold what you're working on in place without a clamp or two. Clamps make your dining table roughly equivalent to a full-fledged workbench.Finally, for the handy person who has it all - give them a great way to store it. Tools are only helpful if you can find them! I prefer a mobile wheeled cart with plenty of shallow drawers for easy sighting of the tool you seek. Happy building!

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